Definitely spelt that wrong. Sorry Green J.
Arriving in Seoul was a welcome back to the modern urbanized world. It felt like Starbucks gave me a hug with 3 stores proudly blotting the corners of the airport arrivals hall. After getting hassled a bit for no reason at customs i arrived a way too late to meet my amazing Korean friend Green J Kim. So after wondering around the streets of Seoul being refused by non English/Japanese/Sign Language speaking taximen i crashed at the shadiest motel of my trip at 2AM. Needless to say even the reception fellas were surprised when i was alone…
I woke up.
Learnt 2 words of Korean and went out to meet Green J.
She’s an amazing individual. She struggled back against a society and father that would try mould her personality to the norm and dictate how she would live. But she found a way around it.
Trust me she dances like a crazy person to anything with a baseline. swag.
After showing me around Seoul and a jam-packed amusement park where i would have a thousand Korean eyes stare at me. We hit up “Asia’s biggest nightclub”.
I’ve heard that tagline so many times. I don’t know whether that’s true or not but i can tell you that Ellui nightclub is thumping’ loud
Citizen Kain played a 3hour set in the main room with crazy graphics projected on all the walls. Green J lost her mind and danced her heart out while i was loving the bass and happily played security guard to ward off some off the scale douchebags. I haven’t seen so much shameless dance rape in years. Maybe i’ve been away from clubs too long but these guys would double team an innocent wide eyed Korean girl from front and rear and hump and bump for minutes at a time while her Korean friends looked around not knowing what to do.
I Sean O’Connor vow to liberate all Korean hotties from tight shirted, American Express waving wannabe bags of douche for the rest of my life.
Me and Green J had an awesome night. My heart was wobbling to bass when i laid down to sleep at 5 in the morning. A long sleep though was not on the menu…
I only had 6 days to spend in Korea and i was determined to explore her.
I woke up at 8AM and bless her, a close to sleep death Green J came to pick me up in her car. We drove towards North Korea!
We planned a bit awfully and we didn’t get on the full Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) tour. But we drove up to the closest viewpoint across the Han River and looked out toward Kim Jon Il’s playground. We watched a video on the horrors of his dictatorship and read about all the North’s antagonist antics. Even with a little biased presentation I couldn’t help but believe it really is a good vs evil battle. But how is this going to end? A union between South and North is just going to destroy the Korean economy, there could be generations of negative racism.
Until then the North Korean civilians especially the women (if the disgusting facts in the presentation were true) will keep suffering on with not too much hope.
Madame Tussauds. The Korean edition.
I spent one more night out with Green J. We ordered the two guinnesses it takes her to go into tipsy heaven and were sad to already have to say our goodbyes. As she left early in the morning i suddenly realized….I had not advanced my Korean language skills past those initial 2 words on day 1.
I was in trouble here.
I took a domestic bus down to Jeonju, Central Korea. No shop/taxi/hotel speaks a word of english. Which in hindsight was one of the charms of this blisteringly fast adventure into Korea.
This is a typical game of Sean’s point and eat technique at the local restaurants. Karma was great, everything ordered was 100% edible and delicious. Raw beef, grilled squid, kimchee tofu soup. All good with me.
The amazing service of Korean restaurants. Order one dish receive 8 refillable side dishes!
Korean women however are incredibly food conscious, as are the majority of female asians i encountered in the past year. In local convenience stores in Jeonju there was a standard sweet rack and a smaller pink sweet rack. needless to say you can guess which size twix bar came in the frilly pink section..
In Jeonju another Korean saved me from being lost in translation. Yun!
We met white water rafting in Cairns and he told me he would show me around his home town out here in Korea. He was good on his word and really generous. He showed me around the local tourist hotspot of traditional Korean houses. Then showed me a lads night out Korean style.
A very addictive game of Korean 3-Ball was played. I say played not contested because the native obliterated the cocky tourist 10-0..
He took me to briefly to a online PC gamer haven. JESUS.
SO many people playing online games in this dark lit hall. Kids aged 10~couples aged 25+ were playing WoW, Starcraft, Fifa, competitive packman. It made me laugh so much. My friend Tim Ablondi would have been rolling on the floor laughing.
All the stereotypes are coming true bro!
Me and Yun escaped the high scores and the B.O. and found a pretty cool bar near Jeonju University. We chain drank guinness and had a really random chat. I learnt a lot about Korean culture, girls and the job struggle. But what sticks with me most is everything i learnt about his time serving compulsory military service. Really interesting what a guy only one year older than me had been doing for 2 years whilst i drank away, chased tail and studied. I very briefly heard a glimpse of a life i couldn’t ever relate to.
Thanks Yun. Solid night buddy!
The weather celebrated me being scared and alone with my korean phrase book once again by dumping bucket rain on my budget umbrella on the walk home!
I had only 3 days oft and i hadn’t done any real exploring, so i checked my knees were up to it and started getting local trains and hiking all over the place! Me staring at symbols was apparently agitating to a few Korean gentlemen…Sorry fellas just trying to get by! ha
I went to Daegu to see medicinal herb market. Still widely trusted and bought feverishly nationwide. Deer antlers, roots, animal bones and pickled ?’s a plenty!
Just a quick note to explain accommodation in Korea is really difficult to find if you don’t grasp the language. One i could trust for easy payment, good amenities and good air con was the h(m)otels.
The sort of place where your neon door sign changes from seductive purple to sultry red every 3 seconds… If your idea of a holiday involves battery operated devices you were in luck with the vending machines in these establishments! haha
They were alright i promise..if a little creepy.
I went to Gatbawi. A mega hike up sloppy rocks but a really impressive buddha statue with a ‘stone hat’. The folk legend goes that to repay your efforts of visiting the statue will grant you your first wish. Many people here were praying and my guidebook said the place is flooded with families days before universities notify prospective students if they get in or not!
I hoped the people i met personally in Sendai Japan would have a fortunate 2012.
P.S. Gatbawi = a stone relic in a sitting position carved into the rock.
Guess which one it is.
I got a little lost on my way to Gyeongju but i dived into another internet cafe to right my ways. Inside i saw some soldiers hard at training. Strategy based warfare games obviously…
Gyeongju had some very famous temples and Green J recommended i go see Balguksa and Seokguram. The temples at Balguksa were beautiful but they were heavily packed Korean family groups. It seems i chose a national holiday to visit these temples. It was the same at Seokguram where there is a fantastic granite buddha statue but aside from taking the photo. My energy was too sapped by the bustling, queuing and hiking to enjoy the magnificence.
I Could imagine it to be mesmerisingly stunning a hundred years ago though. Would have been unbelievably chill with no one else there.
It was all of a sudden my last day in Korea. So after a 3 hour bus to the Port City of Busan i didn’t even have a chance to enjoy its seafood as i had to get on a ferry back to the motherland JPN.
Korea is amazingly true to its own culture and i would definitely spend more time there. I would really like to put effort into the language to make it so much more rewarding.
Thanks to Green J and Yun for helping a naive traveller out!